Will a warning affect my car insurance rates?

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In a nutshell...
  • Being rude and readily admitting you knew you were breaking the law are two ways to increase your chances of ensuring you get a ticket
  • Some states allow you to take a traffic course instead of adding points to your license
  • A ticket has the power to increase your premiums as well as add points to your driving record

Your car insurance rates can increase for some reasons, but a warning is not usually one of them.

A warning can be a verbal warning or written, but even if a traffic officer hands you a notice in writing or reports it to the DMV, it is not usually something car insurance companies use as a reason to increase your car insurance rates.

Car insurance companies do base your rate on your overall driving record, but they typically do not ask about the number of warnings you received in the past.

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What will affect my car insurance rates?

Some factors may not only raise your car insurance rates but also cause your car insurance company to cancel your policy, explains the Insurance Information Institute.

These factors include being at fault for an accident and filing too many claims.

They also include tickets, particularly those for speeding or other types of reckless driving

Who decides if I’ll get a ticket or a warning?

If you are pulled over for speeding, the decision to issue a ticket or a warning is usually up to the police officer who pulled you over, according to an article from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Although the article also notes the officer is likely to have made up his or her mind before he or she even speaks to you, there is no reason to give the officer extra incentive to issue a ticket rather than a warning.

Be polite, follow orders, don’t argue, and, when the officer asks if you know why you were pulled over, say you are not sure.

Admitting your guilt goes down in the officer’s notes and can make its way to your record or a court hearing if the ticket ever goes to court.

Signing the ticket after he or she hands it to you is not admitting your guilt, but only acknowledging you received a copy of the card.

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What should I do if I’m pulled over?

Using proper protocol when being pulled over may lessen your chances of further hassle with the traffic officer.

Pull over as soon as it’s safely possible. If you have to travel a bit before pulling over, put on your hazard lights and always use your blinker when you move to the side of the road.

Unless the officer specifically tells you to get out of your car, stay inside. Getting out of your vehicle invites a confrontation and poses a challenge.

Roll down your window to speak with the officer and keep both hands in full view, leaving them on the steering wheel or somewhere else highly visible.

If you must move your hands to retrieve information from the glove box or another area, tell the officer what you are doing.

Does a ticket always increase my car insurance rates?

A ticket has the power to increase your premiums as well as add points to your driving record. They also usually come with a fine that can sometimes be pretty heavy.

Even if you appear only to plead “not guilty with an explanation,” that explanation may be enough to keep the ticket from affecting your overall driving record, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance says.

Paying the fine, attending driving school, community service or avoiding driving infractions for a specified period may be some of the options.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance suggests requesting a court date to argue your case then talking to the prosecutor to see if you can strike a deal before the court date.

Some prosecutors may be inclined to lower the fine or amount of points that go on your license to keep your offense off of most court’s already-overloaded schedule.

What should I never do if I go to court to fight a ticket?

Explaining your side of the story may be helpful, but it can backfire if you end up using a lame excuse, many judges have heard 1,000 times, Kiplinger’s notes.

You are not likely to get off for attacking the traffic officer for singling you out because of the make, model, color, or decals on your car.

It’s also not a good idea to blame a faulty traffic radar, traffic camera or your broken speedometer unless it was malfunctioning and you can prove it was both defective and that you were not aware of its inaccuracy.

Although many friends and family members may care that you were speeding to see a sick relative, the judge is not likely to buy that excuse.

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